A human rights group questioned the recent confession of a man suspected of fatally shooting a Sam Rainsy Party commune official in Kompong Speu province, saying police may have pressured the suspect into admitting to the killing.
Head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights and former Funcinpec senator Kem Sokha said the mother of suspected killer Him Vuthea told investigators that police allegedly urged her son to confess to accidentally shooting second deputy commune chief Tit Keo Monyroath to death.
The commune official’s death was originally reported by Him Vuthea as an assassination by two unidentified men.
Police allegedly told Him Vuthea that if he did not admit to killing Tit Keo Monyroath, his uncle, he would spend years in jail and his father could face trouble, Kem Sokha said, citing the mother, who was not identified.
Tit Keo Monyroath was killed Nov 16 in Sambo commune, Samraong Tong district. He was shot twice in the buttocks. On Nov 22, police took Him Vuthea into custody, and said Tuesday that Him Vuthea confessed to the killing.
A statement by the Ministry of Interior, issued Saturday, positively identified Him Vuthea as the killer but did not state whether he intentionally or unintentionally shot Tit Keo Monyroath.
Police Tuesday maintained that Him Vuthea was the killer and that he confessed to the killing without coercion.
Despite this, Kem Sokha said that after interviewing Him Vuthea’s mother, they are questioning the validity of the confession.
“According to the mother, if Him Vuthea didn’t say that the gun went off accidentally, he will stay in prison a long time,” Kem Sokha said.
While police said Him Vuthea confessed to accidentally shooting his uncle while riding on a bumpy road, Kem Sokha said human rights investigators said the road where the alleged accident happened was not rough or bumpy enough to make a gun misfire.